The great historian of Soviet Russia, Robert Conquest, once wrote something about the dangers of naïve diplomacy that I’m reminded of daily. “We are still faced with the absolutely crucial problem of making the intellectual and imaginative effort not to project our ideas of common sense or natural motivation onto the products of totally different cultures,” Conquest observed. “The central point is less that people misunderstand other people, or that cultures misunderstand other cultures, than that they have no notion that this may be the case. They assume that the light of their own parochial common sense is enough. And they frame policies based on illusions. Yet how profound is this difference between political psychologies and between the motivations of different political traditions, and how deep-set and how persistent these attitudes are!”
Read the rest of Bruce Thornton's article here.